Monday Notes: Monson Arts Residency

Who do you blame for not being the artist you were meant to be? That was one of the questions in The Artist’s Way.

It didn’t take long for me to come up with an answer. First, I blamed my parents. When I was in the fifth grade, I wrote a book called On the Farm. My fifth-grade teacher was so impressed, she entered the book into a citywide contest either named after or sponsored by Gwendolyn Brooks. I’ve written about this before. I didn’t win; however, now that I’m a parent, I wonder why no one asked me about my interest in writing. As an adult, I realized it’s probably because it was the same year my mother received a kidney transplant. She was hospitalized 150 miles away in Madison, Wisconsin. So, her illness probably took precedence over my perceived art.

Next, I blamed my grandmother. The year after my mother died, I announced to her that I was going to write a book.

“About what?” she asked.

“About my mother’s death,” I said.

“You think you’re the only person whose lost her mother?”

I didn’t answer, but what I did do is stop thinking about writing … anything … for a very long time.

After writing something similar to the above in my Morning Pages, I closed my journal and I cried. That was October 2021.

But as I continued The Artist’s Way activities, a thought emerged. I can do the writer things I wished my caretakers would have. I can nurture myself as an artist in ways I wished my parents would have. I can speak positively about myself as an artist in ways that I wished my grandmother would have. I’m an adult, and it’s up to me to live the life I want and to be the artist I want to be.

That’s part of what led me to applying for the Monson Arts Residency. I needed to submit the following:

  • a cover letter explaining why I wanted to come to Monson, Maine and what I’d be doing while I was there,
  • a writing sample,
  • a website, and
  • two references.

The first time I applied, I didn’t get it; however, the director encouraged me to re-apply in 2022, and if I did, he’d waive the application fee. I did, and this time, I was awarded the residency.

Cue the Prosecco!

Holmquist House

I’ve been quiet on the blog because I was in Monson from March 27th to April 7th being the artist I always wanted to be.

For twelve days, I lived in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a housemate. During that time, I received free breakfast from the General Store and lunch and dinner from a trained chef named Lou Lou. Lou Lou bought fresh groceries daily to prepare meals for us, like Ahi tuna tartare, pork belly, and congee with saffron. The intentionality of her meal creations was surreal. I had my own writing studio in another house that overlooked a lake with a view of the mountains. At the end of it all, I received a check for five hundred dollars. They paid me to be there. I was literally nurtured as a writer.

I have to repeat that. The nurturing I wished I had, I received from this writer’s residency, including being safe, secure, fed, and paid.

With nothing to worry about, I wrote no less than six hours a day, and with that, I was able to finish a draft of my second memoir.

I’m still in awe that I was even there. But I hope you see what I’m saying. I will always advocate for drilling down to the source of how you became who you are. After all, each of us is a product of our environments. But if you’re dissatisfied with the outcome of your upbringing, it’s equally important to take the reigns of your own life and do the things that will allow you to be who you desire. You’re the only one who can do that 😉

Next week, I’ll share the lessons learned/reinforced about myself while I was in Maine. Until then, let me know what you think in the comments.


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68 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Monson Arts Residency

  1. This post touched me deeply and made me teary. I hear exactly what you are saying, i hear exactly what you are saying. I am reminded that I am still blaming people and not doing what I need to do for myself. I am blaming so deep that I put away my copy of Artist’s Way and all the exercise after my initial beginning with it. I read it through but somewhere decided it is not my time yet …I remember exactly who comoletely crushed my sentiment and value for writing my story in to a book, I still can’t recover the initial innocence about it. I will get there, I know I will. Thank you for doing all that you are doing and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand this, Pragalhba. For people who haven’t read it, I describe The Artist’s Way like therapy for artists, so it seems very natural for those who are not ready to tuck it away until they are. I hope you will return to it one day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Katherin, I meant to comment on this last week – it got away from me (I had my adult kids all here visiting for a week).
    I was in awe of how you pursued and embraced this opportunity. It would never have happened if you hadn’t. What an amazing experience! I just read your more recent post and will comment there. So happy you chose to do this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering where you were, Judy! I’m happy to hear your kids are there with you ❤

      Thanks for your happiness! I can feel it through the screen. You're absolutely right about embracing the opportunity. It was a true lesson in letting go and going with the flow of what I desired.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Katherin, congratulations on being awarded the residency to Monson, what a terrific experience to be had, I’m so pleased that you were able to do this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You know what? I’ve already seen and decided that some folks will never understand my experience, and that’s okay. I’ve healed without their understanding.

      Like

  4. First of all, I’m so happy for your amazing experience! Being nurtured so completely as a writer is a wonderful thing, and it sounds as if you made the best of it. Beyond that, thanks for the reminder that we do all need to be our own best advocates, and to not let the limitations other people place on us be the same limits we set for ourselves. I’m not saying this well, but I hope you know what I mean. It’s such an important lesson that it needs to be repeated, loudly and often!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Kathy for sharing such an intimate healing experience. Being able to nurture ourselves is such a vital key to dissolving blocks from our past. The little girl/boy inside of us yearns for the safety that you mentioned to comfortably express the creativity that often gets suppressed by others fears. It’s one step to recognize it, another to accept it, and yet another big giant step to confront it! Your willingness to explore the not so comfortable areas of your past in order to continue to unfold and expand your creativity is a joy to witness! So glad that you reapplied for this residency and immersed yourself into our first healer….nature! Cannot wait for your next post and of course your memoir! ♊️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dr. Twin ❤ I knew you'd get this and all of the various steps. People think healing is like point A to point B, and it's exactly like you just described it: recognizing, accepting, and confronting!

      Like

  6. Kathy!!! This is a super cool experience and a well-deserved opportunity. Such lovely news, and to be able to finish your memoir draft is a cause for celebration. And of course, you know I’m eagerly waiting for that story. But in the meantime, here comes the Prosecco! 🙂

    p.s. I’ve been delaying reading The Artist’s Way (waiting for the “perfect” time to immerse myself in what the book has to offer) but after reading this post, it will be the next book I read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank yooouuu, Khaya! I appreciate all that you’ve said, and I’m raising a glass with you!

      I cannot wait until you delve into, but at the same time, i hope I haven’t hyped it up too much lol

      Like

  7. Thank you for sharing your adventures!!.. it appears to be a wonderful experience for you!!.. even it it may be a different path than others choose, one should listen to one’s heart for happiness.. “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett )… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, the good old days, when everything that sounded slightly of the centre was dismissed as childish illusionism. You had to get are real job; a career in art was for crazies, outsiders or lefties. Many of us baby boomers’ feeble dreams got snuffed out merciless.
    With the rise of postmodernism, the situation changed; it was proclaimed that everyone is an artist!!!!!
    Unfortunately, some of the oldies took it too literally, enthusiastically dived into a dead-end career, without having neither the talent nor the stamina to last, their inferior images swamping arty shops which go broke on a regular base.
    A whole new industry has developed around that need to express oneself, turning hobbyists into want to be commercialists.
    Unfortunately, the good old day’s playpen mentality has become the victim of that trend, everything has become so serious and commercialised.
    Fifty years ago qualitative art material was easily available and affordable, including good linen canvas, allowing even the not so successful artists (like me) to make a living.
    One would have assumed with rising demand for art materials the price would go down, unfortunately, the opposite was the case. The hobbyist’s demand for cheap material drove out small qualitative companies; they either got bought up or gave up, because they could not compete.
    These days large distributers rule and swamp the market with overprized inferior products.
    And it is no different in the literati scene; you have to have a day job to cover the cost of the publishing unless you have good friends with money to spare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is an apt description of how the art pendulum swings, MC. I think, of course, if we could do away with a lot of systems, like capitalism and hierarchical thinking, then the artists in all of us could/would emerge 😉

      Like

    1. Thank you, VJ ❤ I see your spinning wheels, and I understand, because part of what I learned is that I have to prioritize my writing, even if I'm Florida and no one is feeding me three times a day 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG – that artist residency sounds so cool! But I’m so impressed by your commitment to being who you are, regardless of the people and things that get in the way. Like applying to the residency again. There is considerable reward for continuing to try – and being who you are. And who you are is clearly meant to be a writer!! A beautiful, brilliant writer!

    Love this post and how you walk us through overcoming! Thank you, Kathy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Wynne ❤ Yes, overcoming is the appropriate word. Sometimes, we get stuck in the stuff of life, instead of wading through the muck, rinsing off, and starting anew. This was really reinforced for me.

      Thank you, again for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, once we realize and acknowledge, then it’s time to release and figure out a new way 😉 Best of luck to you as you pick up those pieces, too.

      Like

  10. Goosebumps reading this. Congratulations, Kathy! Such an incredible, inspiring experience.
    “I’m an adult, and it’s up to me to live the life I want and to be the artist I want to be.” I remind myself of this truth every day.
    Looking forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Natalie! Yes. It’s so easy to spiral into an abyss of what everyone else should’ve done. It’s much harder to just pick up where you think you were left off, if that makes sense. But it’s possible (which I know you know).

      Like

  11. Omg this is amazing!!!! 🥂 🍾 also I’m so sorry you received that negative feedback from those closest to you. How could you possibly continue with that lack of support? And yet you bounced back and GOT that residency like the goddess you are!!! I’d have to say when it comes to my art and lack of success, I 💯 only ever blame myself. I go the other way and put so much pressure on myself and blame all of my failures on me and only me. Even with my breakup if I’m being really honest I definitely think it’s kinda my fault. I couldn’t tell you why, but I just feel like I failed. And the fact that I’m single at 42 is because I suck, not because of any other factors. So ugh, lots of healing needed! And you are an inspiration, so thank u so much for sharing as always 💖☺️🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Kathy, I’m so glad you were able to experience this residency. I know you must be all types of happy, motivated, and ecstatic about it.

    “I have to repeat that. The nurturing I wished I had, I received from this writer’s residency, including being safe, secure, fed, and paid.

    With nothing to worry about, I wrote no less than six hours a day, and with that, I was able to finish a draft of my second memoir.”

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trE, I cannot express how excited I was when I got the news. I felt like a little kid.

      Thank you for this comment ❤ We all deserve to be nurtured; we just gotta learn where to get it from lol

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Congrats, KE! That is amazing. When we open the door, opportunity comes flooding in. I was struck by your grandmother’s words, that your story wouldn’t matter because you weren’t the first person to lose your mother. That’s exactly why you SHOULD tell it. Your experience might be the one that rings true and makes readers feel less alone, more able to process and share their own story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joan! Yes. Since then, I’ve learned quite a few things: (1) you shouldn’t rely on the words of people who haven’t done what you want to do; they don’t know, and (2) what you said…there are soooo many people who have had similar experiences, and sometimes, most of the time, it’s affirming/comforting to know they weren’t alone.

      Thanks again for this comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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